High Blood Pressure and Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) have the same effects as ACE inhibitors, another type of blood pressure drug, but work by a different mechanism. These drugs block the effect of angiotensin II, a chemical that narrows blood vessels. By doing so, they help widen blood vessels to allow blood to flow more easily, which lowers blood pressure. ARBs are generally prescribed for people who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors.
Are you worried about high blood pressure in yourself, a family member, or a friend? Your concern is well-founded. If left untreated, high blood pressure -- also called hypertension -- can lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Knowing more about high blood pressure can help you prevent this condition from damaging your health, or the health of someone you love. You can start by learning what's true about this condition -- and what's not. Here are five common misconceptions...
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness upon rising, This side effect may be strongest after the first dose, especially if you have been taking a diuretic (water pill). Contact your doctor if these symptoms are persistent or severe.
Physical problems.Diarrhea, muscle cramps or weakness, back or leg pain, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), irregular heartbeat, or fast or slow heartbeat, sinusitis or upper respiratory infection. Contact your doctor if these symptoms are persistent or severe.
Confusion. Contact your doctor right away.
Severe vomiting or diarrhea. If you become sick with severe vomiting or diarrhea you may become dehydrated, which can lead to low blood pressure. Contact your doctor.
Abnormalities in blood chemistry laboratory tests.
Cough, though less commonly than with ACE inhibitors.
Also contact your doctor if you have any other symptoms that cause concern.
Guidelines for taking ARBs
ARBs can be taken on an empty or full stomach. Follow the label directions on how often to take this medication. The number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and how long you need to take the medication will depend on the type of ARB prescribed, as well as your condition. Note: It may take many weeks for you to feel the full effects of the medication.
While taking this medication, have your blood pressure and kidney function checked regularly, as recommended by your doctor.